Writing Wednesday: Predictive Text Poem

Yeah I’m sure the best price

online for a few weeks of my own

and a bit more than a year

or more than a year.

I am not a problem with the following:

models and battery life performance

after one of our refurbished Cisco

available to buy and sell used or new

on a map and I.

I am a the the

same time of the most I don’t have to feel for a bit

like to be a good day out out

for the next couple of years.

A Typical Girl Day

I am DFAB—designated female at birth. This means my anatomy lines up with the gender expression of “female” or “woman” or “girl” or “feminine.” I am aware of this every time I wake up. Every month when my uterus cramps and blood dribbles between my legs. Every time I look at my breasts. Every stranger politely saying “miss” or “ma’am.”

The Day Before

I am calm and collected. My outfit planned for the next day is tight-fitting so I can enhance and admire the curves and lumps on my body. Maybe I’ll wear a dress, I think. I look forward to the next day when I know nobody will misgender me. When I change into my sleepwear, I know that the part of my that is a boy is slightly bitter. A part of my resents the fact that I can “pass” more easily as a female gender—the fact that people read me as a girl. By default, people assume my gender based on my looks. I apologise to myself. Someone will always assume something.

The Morning Of

My hair is easier to manage than it normally is. The way it falls complements my face in a way that makes me believe I’m beautiful. I know that I don’t need makeup to try and change the way my face looks—to make it look more feminine—like I do when I want to look masculine. The bitterness creeps up again: I am not always a woman, but today I am and everyone will agree with me. That bitter feeling fades a little after I get dressed and ready to go outside. The anxiety comes back in full force when I’m ready to step out the door.

Will I get catcalled today? Will a man refuse to move out of my way on the sidewalk? Will the elderly cashier call me “sweetie” or “hun” or “dear” and make me uncomfortable? Will someone on the bus gawk at me? Will someone comment or grimace at my leg and armpit hair if it’s showing? Will people see me as a girl without being a sexist pig?

Interactions

I power through my discomfort and am aware of all the eyes. Aware of all the men who walk toward me and only move out of my way at the last second, or who don’t move at all and knock into my elbows. Aware of the stare I know is coming from the person on the other end of the bus. Nobody is confused that I am a girl today and everyone knows what pronouns to use, if they use them.

I don’t mind touching my friends today with hugs or by leaning against them. For once, my body matches my gender and I find a sense of peace. I know that this feeling is fleeting, and that next week or afternoon, I’ll feel differently. For most of the day, I feel confident. I don’t let myself be made small, whether I’m sitting on a chair or standing at the bus stop.

Someone driving by calls me a fat whore and my confidence shatters. I want to throw in the towel and go home. So I do.

The Night Of

Some days my body is good enough. To most people, they don’t care about my body. To some people, my body is always good enough. And to others, the small number of people, they manage to find my biggest insecurity and rip it open. My body is not good enough. My body will always have something wrong with it. And even the pieces of scum who drive by and insult women are right about that. They are wrong in how my body is wrong—being fat and sexual is not wrong—but they unknowingly remind me that I will never be comfortable as myself.

As a woman, I am a target trying to make herself as small as possible. As a man, I am a body trying to be different. As both, I cannot exist in this society. Identifying as a cisgender woman is impossible for myself, but the default for everyone who doesn’t know me. Identifying as a transgender man is impossible, and I am not aiming to transition and be rid of the DFAB body, which means someone will always see me as a female because of my anatomy. Identifying as both throws everyone out of whack because they never know which one I am. As if I know all the time. As if my gender identity is black and white, clear-cut, or systematic. As if my gender is a light switch to flick off and on.

In this society, I can’t be both and hope to be accepted as both—maybe as one or the other. The binary exists and I am expected to pick one. I can’t even figure out if there might be a third gender because this binary gender system is so all-encompassing that I feel like I can’t escape. Hell, some days I’m neither, but I still identify as both because “genderfluid” doesn’t sit well with me.

There is always something to be uncomfortable about when you are a woman. As I finish the day, I think about the ways I’d like my body to change—masculine or feminine, female or male. The mantras surrounding body positivity tell me to love my body, and that I should be happy with it, and I should appreciate it. But I still feel broken because only a small handful of people remind me that I am whole no matter what doesn’t line up properly.

Tomorrow will be better in some way.

More On My Gender Identity

Bigender Basics

A Typical Boy Day

A Typical Girl Day

Bullet Journal 101: Finding Inspiration

Bullet Journal 101 Series on CorylDork

This post was requested by the lovely Briana Morgan, and I’m so glad she did! She mentioned on Instagram that she had been using her BuJo for a month and “it’s already feeling a little stale.”

I’ve been there.

Ohhh, have I been there!

For a solid month and a half, my spreads went:

  • Header (sometimes decorative, sometimes not)
  • A giant to-do list, consisting of
    • class schedules
    • meals
    • random chores
    • homework
    • notes

And that was it, all in black ink on a white page.

Then I split my daily logs into two columns—essentially just a very large margin on the left side—and got a bit more decorative. Eventually, I sorted it out so the more consistent aspects of my BuJo (taking pills, putting out garbage, exercise) were in the wide margin.

And then I got washi tape.

And nothing changed, except for a strip of colour.

And I was frustrated.

And then… this spread happened.

A photo posted by Coryl o‘Reilly (@coryldork) on

When I planned for an entire weekend—Friday June 10th to Sunday June 12th—I had to think differently about my planner, and more specifically, my daily logs. Instead of chucking all the information into one big list, I needed to figure out the best way to organise all the different things I wanted to do that weekend. I wasn’t aiming to plan tasks to do in a day, or limiting myself to what to do on one day. I needed to do something new, and I ended up inspired.

That spread was only 5 weeks ago. I’ve been playing with my layouts ever since. The inspiration comes and goes, but I’ve found ways to find it when I struggle.

If your BuJo feels lackluster lately, here are my tips for finding inspiration in your spreads.

Try something new

Planning multiple days in one spread; using a timeline to schedule a day; adding a weekly spread; including meals. There’s so much out there that you haven’t tried. You could throw in a new collection, or you can set up a spread for your goals.

When I want to try something new, I look to Pinterest. I have a board on Pinterest for bullet journals that might show you something different! Tumblr also has a bullet journal community. I don’t use Tumblr, but from the Pins I’ve saved, there are some intensely creative folk on there. Search the bullet journal tag or even some “studyspo”—study inspiration— or “studyblr” blogs!

Give your daily log limits

I firmly believe that creativity expands when it’s put under limitations and restrictions. You think differently, y’know? Challenge yourself to use a specific amount of a space, a number of boxes, or a theme like in the Erin Condren planner community.

Use colour

Markers, pens, pencil crayons, washi tape; you don’t need too many supplies to add a small bit of brightness! The spreads I have that use colour tend to make me feel more excited about the day. Start out with a small pop of colour, rather than going HAM with multiple coloured pens to write your lists.

Add something not related to a to-do list

This is a big one for me. I like to put the weather in my daily log because it’s useful, but also because it gives me something to look at that doesn’t scream, “You should be doing something!” Quotes, stickers, and doodles are popular non-task pieces of a daily log. You can remind yourself of some of your goals—the motivation, not the goal to hit—or write down something interesting that happened that day. Find and include something that isn’t a task or an event you need to check off.

Practice your pen skills

Calligraphy, general handwriting, doodles, or drawing straight lines or different boxes. I recommend using blank, dot-grid, or grid paper to practice. There are also printable worksheets online, particularly if you want to try different handwriting styles.

Change your angle and use shapes

The date at the top. A list of things to do down the page. It gets boring. Try mixing up the layout with variations in columns and rows, or turning the book entirely to use a landscape orientation. Put two lists side-by-side. Draw a circle and write in it. I went through a phase of trying different banners and flags, thanks to The Revision Guide on Instagram (also Pinterest) showing short tutorials for doodled illustrations, banners, flags, and borders.

Review your bullet journal

Assess what is working and what isn’t working. Make a list of things you want to try. Look at your previous logs to see what you like and dislike. I recommend this happens at the end of every month before you begin a new month, but there is no set time for when you can review your own work.


I hope you can find a spark somewhere in here! If nothing works, it’s okay to step away from your bullet journal and plan differently. A fresh mind presents new perspectives.

Bullet Journal 101 Finding Inspiration For Logs and Spreads

Writing Wednesday: Miscellany

A small compilation of words I’ve scribbled and typed in random places.

En route to Toronto

a heron lords over

a pond of ducks

acres of undeveloped

wild land, still young,

likely extinct farmlands

overtaken by wildflowers and grasses

trees like teens

not solid enough to

hod their stand

against Mother

gone in a train ride

 

the greeting of car horns

prompted only by your presence

a wailing hello

or an acerbic good afternoon

Bedding

She inspected the corners of the mattress while he stood in the doorway. “Some people make their beds because it looks neat or shows discipline,” she said.

He nodded his head.

“But I make my bed so it’s perfect to dive into at the end of the day. Like fresh snow, right? There’s an expanse of it, untouched, pure, and you want to make your mark in it—but it needs to be perfect. No dawdling about it.”

She punched the pillow a few more times, then smoothed it out and pulled the cover onto it.

“I don’t toss and turn in a well-made bed.”

In Memoriam

There’s a small shrine or memorial set up fora woman who died on the curve in 1993. It seems forever ago, as if the wooden cross should be faded and worn, but someone tends to that dedication and maintains the white paint.

I wonder when the hell I’m gonna learn how to drive. When I’m gonna pass by, behind the wheel, and feel a pang of guilt for the industrious beast I control–for the fact that someone in my position killed a girl like someone killed my brother.

The county widened this stretch of road, winding through the marsh, because everyone always drive too fast. I watch my father go 60, sometimes 70, when the signs say 40. Something stirs inside me uncomfortably every time we drive through this small, lazy S-shaped road.

Opening Up About My Eating Disorder

I’m not going to get into how my disordered eating arose, or why it began, or whatever else I think started it. The beginnings don’t matter in this case. I want it to end.

It’s easy to self-diagnose an eating disorder once you become aware of it. Maybe I have a specific eating disorder that a professional could inform me of—whether it’s binge eating or not—but the fact remains: I have an eating disorder. Sometimes I binge. Sometimes I purge. Sometimes I eat and I’m like “I have more energy now!” and carry on with my day.

I’m obsessed with how I look. I’m obsessed with the food I put into my body. I’m obsessed with nutrient information. And those obsessions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They can be a motivator—a way to improve self-esteem, get stronger, and be knowledgeable about what you eat—if there’s a positive drive. But when looking at myself, feeding my body, and reading nutrient labels, the underlying emotion is guilt.

I can’t eat anything without being ashamed for eating it. Nobody else shames me these days—I distinctly remember people criticising my eating up until I was 16. Tuna salad… yogurt… Someone always had something to say to tell me I was doing it wrong, or at least in a way that let me know they were judging me.

The pattern of shame and guilt has continued, even when nobody comments on my eating. Sometimes people do, and I ask them not to; it’s a trigger for me. Even a simple, “Oo, hungry today?” or “That looks so delicious,” can remind me that 1) people see what I eat and 2) people have judged me for it. A well-meaning comment doesn’t mean I’ll take it that way. It’s hard to outgrow associations in your formative years.

I could eat two boiled eggs, half an avocado, and a banana, and I’ll find a way to feel ashamed and guilty for eating.

Let me repeat that:

I’ll find a way to feel ashamed and guilty for eating.

What kind of life is that to live? Not being able to eat without berating myself and feeling like I’m doing something wrong?

“Feeding myself is wrong.”

“Eating this is bad.”

“I should eat something better.”

There’s so much morality attached to my eating habits and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of feeling like I’m not allowed, like something is forbidden, like this plateful is taboo. Those adjectives are so fucking abstract anyway—wrong? Bad? Better? There’s a comparative to them that I don’t acknowledge. If there’s a wrong, there’s a right. A bad, a good. A better, a worse.

The right is eating. The wrong is eating something that will hurt you.

The good is eating. The bad is eating something that will hurt you.

The worse is bingeing. The better is eating.

I recently got out of a binge cycle that made my mouth sore, my stomach upset, and my intestines ache. Getting out of my head and focusing on my body is good enough to tell me that I made a mistake.

It’s a mistake I don’t want to make again, or at least not as often as I did.

I’ve been trying for four years to break out of my disordered eating. In 2014, I made some progress. In 2015, I made some progress. This year, I haven’t made much progress. But I’m determined now to truly break away from it.

I’ve set up a book for helping me through this. In it, I’ve listed some goals:

  • Overcome bingeing
  • Develop a healthy relationship with food
  • Create awareness with my body

I’m trying to relearn my hunger, and it’s worked incredibly well the past 7 months. I let myself be hungry before I eat, especially when I know I have 1) easy access to food; and 2) good food coming soon. To me, there’s no point in trying to “maintain” a level of hunger that isn’t hungry. So many places for health and eating suggest snacking and meals in order to bring down levels of hunger so you’re not hungry.

Why? Why should I stop feeling hungry? Why should I dash that gurgle in my tummy away?

Unless I’m lightheaded, dizzy, weak, sluggish, tired, or anything affecting my activity, there’s no reason to chase away the hunger so soon. I’ve come to enjoy it. It’s a small conversation with my body, with my organs. I’m not going to deprive my stomach food when it wants it. I’ll just do it after we’ve had a little talk.

I’m also not going to punish my body with workouts, whether it’s cardio, strength training, or yoga. My body is strong and deserves a place to show off its strength: that’s where exercise comes in for me. It’s a celebration of my skills. A way to remind my mind that my body can do things that my mind said it couldn’t. In a way, my body gives the middle finger to that corner of festering guilt and shame. It says, “You see this? You see what I’m doing? You never believed in me. You have nothing to refute this strength.”

It’s impossible to refute the strength of my body. My mind and willpower are the ones who need to change—not my body.

I talk about my eating disorder, and how the guilt and shame of eating has ruined my happiness.

A Brief Pause

I’ve found myself turning away from the Internet more and more, to the point where even minimal browsing pisses me off.

The past week, I’ve been visiting my dad and brothers in my hometown. Being out of Windsor has been a nice break, but I always get anxious the longer I visit here. It’s only been a week, but I want to be back home, with the rest of my books, my fairy lights, my kitchen, my room mate, my central air conditioning… It’s home moreso than this house is.

So I’m taking a small and spontaneous break from blogging until I can re-center and re-focus myself. I’m not sure how long it’ll be before I’m posting regularly again, but I’m hopeful I’ll be back in the game by next Monday.

xoxo

Thoughts On Photoshop Retouching

Listen, I have an opinion when it comes to photo retouching—Photoshopping, if you will, though I know Adobe frowns upon that verbage.

Not all of it represents a negative or unrealistic version of a human body. I mean, most of it does, but not all of it.

We all want to look good in our own eyes. We all have a version of a self that we want to obtain, whether it’s through clothes, environment, general appearance, reputation, etc. We have standards for ourselves. (And if someone doesn’t, well… I have other opinions on those people that I’m not going to share. Because I’m legitimately, occasionally a bitch.) People will wear makeup to do something to their face. Maybe they want to show something artistic. Maybe they want to present a skill with an example—“I’m skilled with makeup. My current face is an example.” Maybe they want to enhance what they think is beautiful, with eyeliner or lip liner or highlighter. Maybe they want to cover up a blemish that will eventually heal.

The thing is, our faces and bodies change and move so much in real life that it’s impossible to photographically capture all that our faces and bodies are.

I recently retouched a selfie of mine that I absolutely adore. I love the way I look. I look at that picture, and I think: “I am beautiful. I want to feel this beautiful, and as beautiful as I did taking the selfie, every day.” It’s a confidence thing. I retouched the photo to remove some pimples and blemishes that are no longer there. Having them there would technically be an inaccurate representation of my appearance—I’d also have to add in new pimples if I wanted a really accurate representation. So I just took out the flaming red irritation on my forehead. I didn’t alter the way my bone structure looked. It was a simple retouch to clear up my skin.

Nobody has outrightly judged me for this. If they did, I wouldn’t care too much. I’d care a little, but I’d get over it, just like they would also (probably) get over it.

I’m not ashamed. The unfiltered and unretouched selfie is on my Instagram and I’m okay with that. I’m not trying to make a statement by showing my face as-is. But since I’ve started using that particular selfie across my social media, I want a more general appearance.

I wanted to show my face the way I want to be seen. So I gave it to myself. I opened the picture in Photoshop and quickly, easily removed what wasn’t there anymore. I’m allowed to do this because it’s my face and my picture.

Thoughts On Photoshop Retouching Selfies Self Confidence Technology

Bullet Journal 101: Modules, Logs, and Migration

Happy Canada Day, and welcome back to Bullet Journal 101!

Last week, we looked at the basics of a bullet journal. This week, we’re looking at how you can expand out from your to-do lists to create a larger, more complex, and more specialised system for your BuJo.

The official website talks about Modules, Logs, and Migration, but only briefly, so I’ll cover them again here for clarity’s sake.

Modules

Modules include everything in your BuJo. A log is a module. The index is a module. Your habit tracker is a module. All of your collections are modules. Modules are to clothes as logs and collections are to shirts and pants. Logs and collections are modules. Shirts and pants are clothes. It’s a category for all the crap you’re putting in your notebook.

Logs

Logs deal with time-sensitive items. You can create a “Future Log” like the one on the website, where you write down events, tasks, and reminders in a calendar spread for the future, but with less detail than the “Monthly Log.” The monthly log is a list of all the days in the month, and then relevant information is stored there. The BuJo website classifies daily to-do lists as “Daily Logs,” so any tasks, events, and reminders that are linked to a specific day are considered to be part of a log.

Another way to look at logs is to see them as calendars. A four-month semester-long calendar is a semester log. A three-month calendar is a quarter log for your blog or business. A calendar for one month is a monthly log. A series of rows and columns that have a space for each day of each month for an entire year can be used for tracking your habits or quality of life—and this is also a log. A yearly habit log, perhaps.

A large chunk of the BuJo community finds most of their inspiration and creativity inside their logs and collections. You can mix and match, create your own, and cater all of your logs and collections to your specific needs.

Migration

All the information in your BuJo, whether it’s a task that needs to be done or an inspiring quote you noted on a day, needs to be migrated to a more permanent space, like a collection. Migration deals with the list items from your daily logs that don’t have a “done” or “in progress” status. Tasks not done on one day can be migrated to the next day, or they can be scheduled for another day. Signifiers and bullets can tell you whether the task is moved to tomorrow or scheduled farther in the future. Notes and reminders, or quotes you jot down, can be done in the daily log and then migrated to the appropriate collection or calendar.

So let’s say I have a daily log. In it, I write, “Even behind clouds, the sun will rise”—a motivational and inspiring quote. I also write, “Brother visits July 3rd to July 12th.”

At a designated time, maybe at the end of the day or the end of the week, I would flip through my daily logs and find pertinent information to transfer to a collection or a different log. I’d move my quote to a Quotes collection, and write down in a monthly log the days my brother is in town.

Personally, migration doesn’t work for me. It’s an additional step that takes away from my organisation; I’d rather go straight to the collection or log and write down the information.

However, if I have a task or an event written in one daily log that I don’t do that day, or that gets post-poned, I can migrate it to the next day, or I can add it to a monthly or weekly log, or even add it to a collection like “Housekeeping and Home Improvement.” I have yet to find a rational way to cross-reference a monthly log with my daily logs to try implementing migration. Just goes to show that I’m still learning with you!


If you can believe it, we’ve covered the basics already. You now have all the information necessary to go full-force into a bullet journal. You know about bullets, collections, modules, logs, and migration. If you’re confident enough, you can stray from the purist path. If not, I suggest you use the method on the website to see what doesn’t work. Start with the process of elimination.

This week’s challenge

Create a monthly log for July. You can use the design on the BuJo website, or do a look on Pinterest and Instagram for ideas. I have a Pinterest board for the bullet journal in case you need inspiration. Think about how much information you need to include in your log. You can also write out the things you want to display in your monthly log. Maybe a list like the original system will work for you. Maybe you need a column-and-row box calendar instead.

Here is what I’ve designed for my July Log!

Monthly Log July

Next week will feature all the goodies you can have fun with in the core of the bullet journal—Daily Logs. I’ll share some of my own daily log spreads so you can see what I started with and how my layouts changed.

Bullet Journal 101 Modules Logs Migration Expanding Bullet Journal For Beginners